In sickness and health, for richer or poorer

January 30, 2014

Monday afternoon

Work. Eat lunch. Salad. From a Kampala restaurant. Seemed okay.

At school, sit down for rest on stairs while getting kids. Nausea. Liz, do you still have some TP in the car?

Drive home. Call Babe. Babe, I’ve been hit by something. Can’t get any milk, I say. Stop at gas station. No energy. Can barely talk. Liz asks where washroom is, for me. Facilities filthier than most Canadians can imagine. No toilet. Just a squat.

Home. Bed. Collapse. Pain. Vomit. Fever. And the other. Babe sees me. Looks like food poisoning.

Monday night

Can’t keep anything down. No fluids. No medicines. American nurse and retired doc come in. IV set up in bedroom. Drip, syringes, tubes, fluids – in the arm, in other places. Fever hits 103.9. It’s a war zone.

In bed. Sleep. Not really. In bathroom. Back, forth. Babe up all night to check IV. Babe gets less than a couple of hours sleep.

Jon wakes and is up. Had a nightmare. Unusual. Jon up a second time. Strange. Liz now up. I’m not aware of any of it. My Babe tells me about it later.



Hi Daddy. Children visit briefly. Kiss on the cheek. Bless you.

Babe takes kids on school run, gone by 7, then has her regular work day.

Bed-bathroom continues. Walk the short distance with IV in hand. Retired American doc monitors me.

Babe back, takes over.

Jon tells me of his nightmare. Our place was robbed. Then burned. Just the roof though. After we all ran out and played in the park and went to the neighbours. Then their house burned. Just the basement though.

Tonight will be better, I say.

Babe takes pictures of war-zone bedroom.

What are you doing?

I’m taking pictures of my ICU, says Babe.

That’s a Daily Dad, I say.

Fever still, but lower.

Babe checks for VIP emails for me. These are important, she says. Writes back as I dictate.

Babe up much of second night in a row to monitor IV. In sickness and health.

My own vivid dreams. Strangely, I remember them all.



Babe up at 5 for more IV, takes me off the drip by 7, takes kids on school run.

Freedom. Walking. Fatigue. Bed. Bathroom. Strong enough to drink. Keep it down. Awful taste.

Rice, banana – very little. Go slow.

Strength, weakness, strength, fatigue.

Could be worse. Could be malaria. Had that three times. Just about killed me once.

Ugandan doc, colleague of Babe’s, comes in to give me injection. I promise I can make this virtually pain free, he says. Pain just about kills me. Sorry, he says. I missed the vein. Let me try again.

Up to watch Brady Bunch before kids go to bed. They’re in Hawaii.

Jon: Why can’t we go to Hawaii?

Me: We are in Hawaii.

Hannah: We are?

Me: It’s been a very cold winter in Canada.




Still feeling weak but think I can watch Gulliver’s Travels video. 3 hours long. Will do in pieces. Been years. Those Yahoos. Not feeling big like Gulliver at all. Just a different sort of Yahoo. A recovering little Yahoo in Africa.

Can take my own medicine now orally. Fluids. Rehydration salts. Still awful. A bit of lemon. More.

Start Daily Dad. Return to it several times to get it done.



This is getting sick in Africa.

Our engagement anniversary getaway for this weekend is now postponed. Had been looking forward for weeks.

But I can never repay My Babe.


Yes, this is Africa, where I’ve had the luxury of having a doctor for a wife who went way beyond the call, a nurse, two other doctors and the comfort of a virtual ICU in my own room.

If I was your everyday Ugandan, I could have a dirty hospital (no real cleaning staff) without meds (commonly stolen) and without real docs (no money to pay them) and rather than writing this, I’d either still be terribly sick or …

For richer or poorer.

Share this post

January 30, 2014 • Posted in
Contact Thomas at [email protected]


4 thoughts on “In sickness and health, for richer or poorer”

  1. Cornel & Marie Driessen

    We come from Africa; though not THAT bad because it is South Africa. But we know about the ‘ICU’s set-up in most awkward spots and places!

  2. So sorry Thom. What a week….but you could be in Canada, and you don’t want to know about the care. But you would still have Babe, your own ICU in your bedroom, and precious children so worried about their Dad that they would still have their nightmares! … Give my love to “Babe” and thanks for writing your blog. I love it. Praying your strength returns quickly so you can have that special weekend away.

  3. Ron and Marilyn Nixon

    Ron and I had the same symptoms and I finally called 911 and we both travelled in the ambulance to the hospital. We were each given ice chips and examined 6 hours later. We were diagnosed with either food poisoning or flu and sent home. It took us about 5 days to get back to eating our regular diet. So this is Canada eh!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top